The hour is late: this Thursday Harriet Harman MP, Leader of the House of Commons, will detail the government’s plan for the Digital Economy Bill.
She must be informed now that the bill requires proper debate. You can do this quickly and easily thanks to 38Degrees. Click here to add your own voice to the call.
Here is my letter to Harriet Harman:
I am writing to you regarding the Digital Economy Bill, which is the main issue for me in the upcoming elections.
As Leader of the House of Commons you have authority over whether this bill will receive proper, democratic debate and attention or be rushed through in the ‘wash-up’ process.
This is a bill that requires intricate, line-by-line, clause-by-clause analysis. It contains elements that will be detrimental to Britain’s growing, evolving economy, creative culture and society and which will have repercussions that could take years to undo.
This reality has unfortunately been obfuscated by extreme lobbying from the media industries, which are eager to place artificial restrictions on the Internet so as to maintain their 20th century business models, rather than exploring exciting new business opportunities. Their influence extends so far as to even be the word-for-word authors of Clause 18 in the bill, with suggestions that a Lord who introduced amendments did not declare his industry connections. Given this week’s revelations about lobbying abuse it is now even more crucial that the Digital Economy Bill be scrutinised closely, if the British public are to have any faith at all in their government.
I worry that many good, honest and responsible MPs do not yet realise the seriousness of the bill, due to it being rushed towards the ‘wash-up’ period. If MPs were to examine and debate the bill properly I am sure that many, across all parties, would have many questions, doubts and concerns.
Although some parts of the bill are valid, there are enough problems with it that it could easily have the opposite effect of that intended, resulting in a ‘digital Britain’ that is essentially disconnected from the world, or a nation split between those who have Internet access and those for whom it is denied. It was made clear this week that Gordon Brown and Labour believe in a united, digital, online future for the country – that future is absolutely not compatible with the Digital Economy Bill in its current form.
The bill threatens to disconnect families, businesses and establishments such as libraries through no fault of their own. In its attempts to curb piracy it will instead force the pirates to employ more extreme measures – the reality being that the only people inconvenienced by the bill are ordinary, innocent people. The bill is a threat to fundamental human rights, including the concepts of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and freedom of expression. The bill contains censorship powers entirely inappropriate for a ‘free’ country such as the United Kingdom, powers that will cripple many creative people and technology-based industries.
The bill has the potential to prevent Britain being a major player in the 21st century, limiting our country to always looking backwards and grasping at a 20th century economy and lifestyle that no longer exists. Citizens of other countries will look at us from outside the UK’s great firewalls and note how it was the hurried passing of the Digital Economy Bill that set us down the wrong path, all because it wasn’t given the appropriate time for debate.
These are serious matters. Over 12,000 individuals have written to MPs asking for debate in just a couple of days.
I therefore ask you to ensure that clauses 11-18 of the Digital Economy Bill are given serious consideration and time and are not rushed through during the ‘wash-up’ process.